Isle of Man Maritime – A Cluster Organisation with a Difference

General Manager, John Garland, recently spoke about the journey of setting up Isle of Man Maritime, its journey so far and its plans for the next 12 months in a feature in the Isle of Man Ship Registry’s 2018 Annual Report. Check it out below:

Isle of Man Maritime (‘IOMM’) was formed in 2018 by its three Directors, Russ Kent, Lars Ugland and Mark Robertshaw, who believed that the Island’s maritime sector was best served by creating a wider cluster organisation of its existing parties. The main pillars underpinning the new IOMM cluster are the former Isle of Man Shipping Association, the Isle of Man SuperYacht Forum, the Isle of Man Maritime Group and the Isle of Man Government.

This unique private/public partnership, although still in its infancy, is already starting to bear fruit with groups of like-minded members coming together, to work on prestige events off-island including London International Shipping Week and the Monaco Yacht Show, both taking place this September. IOMM also places focus on educational events for its members, locally and in the UK, and already has a packed itinerary of events for 2019…16 and still counting!

Events so far have included Maritime Cyber Security, EU Substance Requirements, Natural Gas Exploration as well as a presentation which General Manager, John Garland gave with Dick Welsh, Director of the Isle of Man Ship Registry, to friends at Wirral based Mersey Maritime, during their first ‘Face 2 Face’ event of 2019. As has already become evident, diversity is one of IOMM’s strengths!

However, IOMM is not just an events organisation. It is currently in the process of establishing various sub-committees to focus on a number of key objectives including: how best to provide strategic guidance on the Island’s many beautiful harbours, legislative changes within the EU and, of course, it wouldn’t be 2019 if the challenges of Brexit weren’t firmly on their radar. These are just some of the challenges IOMM aims to meet head on over the coming months/years but with IOMM’s collaborative approach combined with its members’ global reach it sees real, positive opportunities on the horizon.


IOMM is a diverse group of around 70 businesses, all with a core objective in common – growing and promoting the Island’s maritime sector. Its diverse membership ranges from traditional shipping companies to yacht managers and pretty much everything in between!

For General Manager, John Garland, this diversity makes for an adventure every working day:

“Engaging with our members is education in itself for me. In the morning I can be discussing our ‘Dare to be Different’ philosophy and ideas for this year’s event at London International Shipping Week… (Watch this space!) …then in the afternoon I can be helping a new maritime tech start-up, providing introductions to the relevant Government support teams. I can also call on our member firms for assistance with complex scenarios, technical queries or introductions to their global contacts if ever needed. This close engagement works equally as well member to member, with our events on and off island allowing for those members to spend time in understanding how they can work together in the future.”


The Island’s maritime sector faces similar challenges to many other key sectors. Employers continue to experience difficulty in finding the right employees, and attracting suitably skilled workers to move to the Island and then work through the immigration and work permit system can take time.

However, John Garland’s view remains one of optimism:

“We have an Island of very low unemployment, with over 30 years of sustainable and consistent growth and that is home to an accessible Government who want, and do, engage with us regularly. This makes the daily challenges of our members that little bit easier and it is my job as the day-to-day manager of the cluster, to keep that engagement moving forward.

“I do also see the Island’s focus on Finance and Technology affording the maritime sector new opportunities. Many of the smaller businesses I have engaged with to date have a keen eye on ‘MariTech’, i.e. providing a range of technology services specifically designed for the global maritime market place. This is an exciting development for our sector, and potentially the Island as a whole, but all credit goes to those local entrepreneurs who spot the opportunity and create their own luck. I am always here to help them.

“Lastly, I must mention and thank the core group with whom I engage on a day to day basis. Having the experience of Lars Ugland, Dick Welsh, Cameron Mitchell and his team; together with the passion and drive of Lesley-Anne Walker and our newly appointed Chairman, Russ Kent; as well as the creative flair and support of members like Cathy Lane and Bruce McGregor (to name but a few); makes me very fortunate in that I manage a cluster organisation with a difference. They all make my job much easier than it should be – just don’t tell them I said it!”

If you would like to read the full Isle of Man Ship Registry Annual Report 2018 click here.